Diversity of Reactions, Harmony in Judgements
Amongst the hundreds of film festivals in Europe only a few are designed for children and a youth audience. In Chemnitz, Germany, the Internationales Film Festival für Kinder und Junges Publikum has been one of them since 1995. Showing animation films, short films and fictional movies, it was held this year from September 26th to October 2nd. It is called the “Schlingel”, a German word for an impish child, a sympathetic rascal.
174 films from 54 different countries were shown in the multiple selections covering age categories from 4 to 16. This is maybe the biggest difficulty for the jury: how can you judge on the same level a charming fairy tale for the 5-6 years old (Meester Kikker by Anna van der Heide) and a political comedy for 14-15 years old (La Drum cu tata by Anca Miruna Lazarescu)? If the expectations for the artistic and technical qualities are the same, it is sometimes difficult to anticipate the reaction of the target group.
Luckily, many screenings were attended by scholars, from preschoolers to teenagers so that the jury members can feel and see the audience’s reactions. What is funny for adults is not always funny for children. During some screenings, you could tell that teenagers were not really interested because they were moving a lot, while during others, you could hear a sigh of disappointment at the end, because they would have loved to stay longer.
However, it is interesting to note that adults' juries and youth juries have awarded the same films. For instance, Thinh Vinh Tran by Victor Vu (Vietnam) was given a prize both by the young European Jury (16 teeangers from 8 different countries) and the professional jury. Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Taika Waititi (New Zeeland) was awarded by the Ecumenical Jury and the Junior Jury.
Over the years, and thanks to the Chemnitz municipality, the region and many private partners, the director Michael Harbauer succeeded in making the Schlingel a warm festival, very friendly and where everyone is taking care of: audience, jurors, directors…